As more and more people and companies join social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, the lines between personal life and work life can quickly blur into each other. The type of information people might innocently include on their Facebook profiles is often the exact kind of legally protected information that a potential employer cannot ask about or a current employer need not know, such as religious and political beliefs, race or age, or pregnancy or plans for family.
Many companies do not have social media policies that spell out what is appropriate or inappropriate use by employees, which can lead to confusion. People who have posted anything from an innocent vacation photo to a questionable rant about a boss have been fired. Some have fought back with legal action.
An interesting article recently published by The Wall Street Journal looks at some of these issues and some specific employment law cases that have come about as a result. Several cases currently making their way through the courts or the National Labor Relations Board will begin to shape the case law in this relatively new branch of employment law and employer-employee relations.
The next post will take a closer look at a couple of these cases, including one set to be heard by the National Labor Relations Board this week regarding a former employee of a medical-transportation company who claims she was wrongfully terminated for ranting about her boss on Facebook. According to the WSJ, it will be the NLRB’s first social media-related case.
Employers Tread a Minefield (The Wall Street Journal)